This College Student Shared A Powerful Message About Being A Female Athlete

Princeton University student Quinn Parker is proud to be an accomplished athlete — but she still has to face obstacles in terms of gender inequality.
In a post to the Princeton Athletics Instagram account, Parker opened up about what being a female athlete means to her.
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"To me, women's empowerment means being unapologetic in your confidence & ability as a woman," she wrote. "I see this mentality on the @PrincetonAthletics women's track team — not only are all of these ladies incredible athletes, but they also find the time to be engineers, scientists, artists — everything!"
The photo in the post was part of a photoshoot that she and eight other Princeton track team members did "to embody this hardcore quality and show that we're not afraid to embrace our strength and intensity."

#TellUsTigers: "To me, women's empowerment means being unapologetic in your confidence & ability as a woman. I see this mentality on the @PrincetonAthletics women's track team — not only are all of these ladies incredible athletes, but they also find the time to be engineers, scientists, artists — everything! For this photo shoot, we wanted to embody this hardcore quality and show that we're not afraid to embrace our strength and intensity. The other day I was talking to a friend about traveling & he said, 'But you can't travel alone! You're a woman!' It's discouraging to know that because of my gender, I have to constantly worry about my safety in a way that men never will. As girls, we're taught from a young age that the world at large isn't a safe space for women — and not in a way that seeks to change this, but in a way that accepts it. But I refuse to be limited in what I can do, where I can go & who I can be because of my gender. That's why I think empowering women is so important. So that we can fight this rhetoric. I started running track when I was a freshman in high school. That year, I was the only girl who signed up to compete. I was pretty intimidated — I was a tiny freshman girl on a team of all guys. But the coach & my teammates treated me with nothing but respect, and I fell in love with running. Nothing really compares to flying down the track, feeling strong, powerful & determined. I run the 400, and it forces me to challenge myself on a level I hadn't thought possible. The mental toughness that the sport requires makes you realize that you are capable of so much. If I could write a letter to my younger self, I'd tell her to be bold in everything she does. Don't let others discourage you; make it your goal to prove them wrong. And never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something simply because you're a girl." — Quinn Parker (@quinnp6), Class of 2018 (4th from left), ecology and evolutionary biology major who is also earning a certificate in environmental studies, and the student-athlete wellness leader on the track team, which has a home meet Fri/Sat April 7&8 at Weaver Stadium #PrincetonU. Photo by @noelv

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Parker wrote that as discouraging as it can be to worry about having a safe space as a woman, she refuses to let it hold her back.
"I started running track when I was a freshman in high school," she wrote. "That year, I was the only girl who signed up to compete. I was pretty intimidated — I was a tiny freshman girl on a team of all guys. But the coach & my teammates treated me with nothing but respect, and I fell in love with running."
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However, she knows that isn't the case for everyone.
"As I got older, I realized that not everyone is so lucky — my high school teammates were nothing but respectful, but that often isn’t how the world at large is," she told Yahoo. "There have been a lot of times since that first year of high school where I’ve encountered pushback because of my gender, and the same can be said for women everywhere."
The photoshoot, she said, was a way for herself and her teammates to be represented and to inspire others.
"Presenting ourselves as role models and reinforcing that we refuse to accept any limits in either athletics or academics is where our influence lies," she told Yahoo. "We want to be able to encourage other girls to do the same."
As frustrating as it is, female athletes still face discrimination — and it can be even worse for female athletes of color. We may have a long way to go, but athletes like Parker are paving the way.
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